Listen

News 88.9 KNPR
Classical 89.7 KCNV

member station

We asked comedian and occasional Desert Companion contributor Barry Friedman if he'd ever spent a New Year's Eve on the Las Vegas Strip. Turns out he had:

In 1993, between Christmas and New Year’s, a German girl I had met in the Bahamas months earlier came to meet me at the Maxim, where I was performing. The club put up the comedians in three rooms — 333, 335, and 337 — all overlooking the hotel’s HVAC. I was in the orange room (the others were brown).

The wallpaper depicted the Strip, circa 1970.

Claudia bought red roses and rented a red Miata.

“I got the flowers from a guy outside Excalibur.”

“What guy?”

“Oh, the car’s at Flamingo.”

“Why?”

“Sweetie, it’s Christmas, I’m a 22-year-old German girl whose virginity I gave you, I flew 112,000 miles, I couldn’t find a florist, couldn’t find the hotel, got lost on the Strip. Why do you Americans make everything so hard?”

“Because we won the war. We’re allowed.”

The following day, we went to the Maxim buffet and ate miniature bagels and omelets, and then we — a German and a Jew — took a Japanese convertible to a matinee of Schindler’s List.

Hand to God.

Support comes from

There were only three others in the theater — check that, four. A woman, a flatulent woman, came in halfway through and sat next to Claudia. Afterwards, on the way to Just for Feet and Ethel M at The Forum Shops, I asked, “So, what did you think of Spielberg’s depiction of the Germans?”

“He was too easy on us. It was a good war for you to win.”

Next day, Hoover Dam ... sort of.

“Sweetie, what are you doing?”

“Parking. Don’t you want to see the dam?”

“I see it,” she said, pointing to it. “I appreciate this, but I hate sightseeing. Let’s go back to the buffet.”

You could fall in love with a girl like that.

That week, we lost big on nickel keno but won $35 on the plastic horse machine. On New Year’s Eve, after the show, we ate pizza in bed and fell asleep before midnight. In the morning, on TV, we noticed there had been a few hundred thousand people on the Strip, partying.

“Oooh,” she said. “We missed.”

Then, thinking about the movie and her and me, I said, “There’s an old saying that every Jewish baby born spits on Hitler’s grave.”

“Maybe our being here does the same,” she said.

It was a good war to win.

On the first day of 1994, a German girl with discounted Reeboks and a suitcase full of chocolate found the MGM marquee in the wallpaper and wrote our names in it.

More from